Friday, December 30, 2005

Rolen, Edmonds, Pujols

I heard that a local urology group paid $2,000 apiece for the urinals from the Cardinals' locker room at the old Busch Stadium. I wonder what the plans for them are?

Maybe there's inspiration from another downtown institution, the Anheusuer Busch Clydesdales. (click for a great historic view of the brewery)

If you've ever visited the Clydesdale stables at either the Brewery or Grant's Farm, then you've seen the way horses have their names engraved on polished brass plaques affixed to the gates of their stalls.

Now picture you're in the men's room at the same urology practice. They have installed the urinals on the wall, decked out the room in Cardinal red, and attached the names of famous Cardinal players on brass plaques above each stall.

Well, they will have to do something to distinguish these from plain old fashioned garden variety urinals, right?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Nottingham Community Center Updates

Bill Burnes, committee member for the project, updates us on progress and further project details with this recent entry (scroll to the bottom to read Bill's comments).

Also, according to an article in the latest edition of the Suburban Journal, the organizers of the effort have recently submitted an offer to purchase Nottingham School.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Midnight Run

At 2:00 am, we were awakened by the sound of Matt whimpering in pain in the bathroom. The sound of your own child in real pain is something that pierces right through you, and a sound that wakes you right up. He couldn't swallow, and was having difficulty breathing. A trip to the ER was pretty much a certainty.

By about 2:10, we were on our way to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. It always amazes me to think about the wonderful medical facilities available to residents of the St. Louis area.

I'll never forget the time, about 8 years ago, when my mom was visiting from out of town. She wasn't feeling well, and needed to see a doctor. Unfortunately, she did not have medical insurance. I remembered hearing how the old Alexian Brothers Hospital on South Jefferson would treat patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

It was Christmas day when we went down to Alexian Brothers. My mom had worked in hospitals in California, and was immediately impressed with the appearance of the facility. She did not believe me when I told her the care would be provided to her at no cost.

They took her in, gave her a private room, and treated her with dignity, kindness and repect. The doctor was wonderful, cracking jokes and flirting with her. When everything turned out okay, the staff all wished her a Merry Christmas, and sent us on our way. No charge. Mom was floored. She had never heard of anything like this happening in California.

6 months later, she received a note from the hospital, checking in with her, suggesting a donation if she could afford one, and that was it. No pressure. No demand for payment. Zilch; nada. It was another of those experiences we've filed away under "St. Louis Moments".

Alexian Brothers is no more, and at Children's, you have to pay. Fortunately, we have insurance. The place is wonderful, and was Matt's second trip there. His first was about 6 years ago on New Year's Eve. He had an accident, cutting open an inch gash in the top of his head. The ER doc stapled it closed and he was fine.

Children's is the same hospital where the kids washed away in last week's dam failure at Johnson's Shut-Ins were treated. We talked with the nurses about it, and they all said it was stories like those that make their work the best. Given the miraculous nature of it, we figured someday the story would be turned into a network TV event.

3:00 am in the ER is a nocturnal world of strange events. A lady was arguing with the desk nurse about urine test results on her ten-year old daughter. The test showed crack cocaine in her urine, but the mom insisted "there were two 'urines' on the counter" and that the hospital had switched the vials.

She looked over at Matt and me and warned us: "You better watch your urines!". Then she raised her voice, and announced that she was contacting her attorney. She flipped open her cell phone, and left a 3:00 am message on her lawyer's voice mail to file a complaint.

For some reason, the ten year old needed to be seen at another hospital. Even though they were all walking around normally, and appeared to be completely fine, an ambulance and ER team was on its way to drive her to her next hospital stop.

Meanwhile, we were waiting on Matt's test results. When the doctor came in, she told us he was suffering from a bad case of strep throat. A 10-day Rx for penicillin, and he should be fine.

We got back in the car and made the 10-minute ride home, passing the very strange site of seeing the Berra Park athletic fields on the Hill fully illuminated at 5:00 o'clock in the morning.

By this time, Matt was starting to feel better. Call it good luck or bad luck; his Christmas vacation starts today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What Matters

Last night, I phoned a friend about the developing situation going on in his old St. Louis neighborhood. For forty-plus years, he lived on Columbia, just around the corner from St. Aloysius church. Last year, he and his family moved to a big new home across the Missouri River, over in St. Charles County.

He graduated from St. Aloysius in the 70s, and knew a little about the plans to demolish the church for a new subdivision. He thought the project would be an improvement to the area, and supported it. He couldn't understand why the Preservation Board denied the demolition request. What would happen now? Would the old church complex remain vacant indefinitely?

He went on to say how he thought most of the housing around the church was "dilapidated", and how new homes would bring up the area. New homes built on the St. Al's site would encourage other developers to come in and tear down dilapidated housing around the church, and a whole new neighborhood could be built, just like what is happening at Botanical Heights.

I explained how a group of historic preservation and pro-city advocates testified to save the buildings to preserve the historic fabric of the neighborhood and how they thought the buildings could be converted to some other use, such as loft condominiums.

My friend didn't understand how a church could be converted to housing. I mentioned a few examples of how it had been done before, and he said he thought whether the church would be demolished for new homes, or rehabbed, the two choices gave the city a "win-win" set of alternatives, and that either option would be good by moving new families into the area.

I could tell he really wasn't that interested in discussing the St. Al's situation. What he really wanted to do was catch up on how our two sons are progressing in sports. His son is a real strong kid, with a rocket for an arm. He told me how this off-season, he's making arrangements for him to have private pitching lessons with former Cardinal pitching star, Danny Cox. He assured me that the lessons would be expensive, but he wanted the best for his son. The boy does have a lot of potential.

Our sons started out growing up together, attending Lutheran shools and playing on the same sports teams. My friend's experience is just the opposite of ours. He grew up Catholic, and converted to the Lutheran faith as an adult. Kerri and I on the other hand were both raised Lutheran, but then converted to Catholicism a couple of years ago. It really doesn't make much difference now anyway, since Lutherans and Catholics are kind of becoming the same thing.

This winter, we're thinking of setting Matt up for some private pitching lessons too. I doubt he'll have a former Cardinal as an instructor though, that is unless they have some of them working down at the St. Louis Baseball and Fast Pitch Baseball Academy. However, I have heard that another former Cardinal pitcher is dating a woman that lives in Magdalen parish, and how we might be able to get him to give our kids some free pitching lessons. Now, that would be cool.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Heinous Christmas Decorations

Decorating things is a big deal for St. Louisans. We take shards of broken ceramic tile and mirrors, and turn them into men's room mosaics. We hang buses and broken airplanes off the tops of buildings.

You even see it when we're on the road. Travel to one of Missouri's campgrounds, and you can always tell the St. Louisans by the strings of colorful electric lights and pink flamingos surrounding their campsites. That's all fun stuff and makes us part of an extended community.

But sometimes, we go too far. This year's gotta-have yard decorations are the new, $299-$350 inflatable snow globes. They're showing up on front lawns all over St. Louis. Am I the only one who wants to pop one of these things with a giant poker? Giant puffy snow men, Santas on Harleys, reindeer scenes, they're are all great.

But snow globes are supposed to be miniature winter fantasies, sealed in a crystal ball. When they're 6 feet tall, undulating in the breeze, and emitting a constant hum from an electric fan, that's where I draw the line.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Exciting Riverfront Plans...

...along the blue waters of the Mississippi up in Grafton.

Float a few miles down the river, and discover that Alton has its own multi-million dollar riverfront improvements planned...

Old world service, within a five minute ride

A couple of weeks ago I made a great buy on a leather jacket at the ScholarShop in Clayton. It was during their annual volunteer appreciation day where they open the store only to the family and friends of their volunteer staff.

On the following Monday, I wore the jacket for the first time, and promptly snagged it on a sharp object, tearing a 2-inch hole in the side. So I've been searching for a place to have it repaired.

Calling around, I found a little place at 5423 Gravois: "Bob Stevenson's Shoe Repair & Leatherwork & Orthotics". Sounds like a good South City place, doesn't it? They're located in the Bevo area, just a couple of blocks southwest of the old Gravois Bootery.

Bob, answering his own phone, assured me he could repair the damage like brand new, and his price was less than half of what his suburban competitors quoted. One of the best things about St. Louis are all the small independent businesses operating out of our stock of historic, mixed-use buildings, where the "Low Overhead" way still applies...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Shattered Kevlar

Johnnie Mac's sporting goods store in Crestwood is an athlete's paradise. They specialize in hockey equipment, and you'd be amazed at the variety of products they carry. They must have over 300 hundred different hockey sticks in stock. And hockey sticks are no longer the clunky, wooden variety you remember from years ago. They've gone all high-tech. And some have gotten very expensive, approaching $200 apiece.

Kevlar is the ultra lightweight and very strong synthetic fiber invented by DuPont used in making bullet proof vests. Like other space-aged technology, it has other uses as well, including the manufacturing of athletic equipment.

Matt plays with a "hybrid", "Z-Bubble" stick made by Easton. The good thing about hybrids, unlike their more expensive one-piece counterparts, is that the blades are replaceable. Replacement blades run anywhere from $12-$50 dollars. Snap a blade and the whole stick is not ruined.

To make them more lightweight and durable, Easton wraps the shaft of its Z-Bubbles with Kevlar braiding. You can see the Kevlar braid through the clear coat finish of the shaft. The result is a cool, 3-D illusion. The "bubble" in a Z-Bubble supposedly gives it more flex on a slapshot. Not ever having played ice hockey myself, I wouldn't know anything first hand about stick flex or making a slapshot...

Last nite, the Affton Gold House Peewees went on the road to St. Peters in the second game of a home-and-home series, trying to reclaim first place in their division. In their last game, St. Peters moved into first place by beating the Affton team at Affton, 4-2. So yesterday, it was Affton's turn, hoping to beat St. Peters on their home ice.

We made the 30-plus minute drive from South City to St. Peters, (and this with no traffic), arriving at the impressive St. Peter's Rec-Plex. This is the same facility which played host to 2004's Olympic diving qualifying tournament..

The Affton team started the game with a short bench-only 9 skaters; while the St. Peters team had lots of reserves, about 20 skaters in all. Nonetheless, the Affton team jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period. However, by the end of the first period, you could see the Affton players tiring, and St. Peters tied the score, 2-2.

Late in the game, the score was tied 4-4. With about 4 mintues to play, skating in a crowd, Matt unintentially speared a St. Peter's player with his stick. The Kevlar-wrapped shaft of the Z-Bubble shattered in two. He wasn't whistled on the play, but was sent to the penalty box for 2 minutes for not dropping his broken stick to the ice, a safety penalty.

Affton killed off the penalty, and with less than a minute to play, the score remained tied 4-4. Affton had played a strong game, and well enough to win, but it looked like this one would end in a tie.

Then with about 20 seconds left, an Affton forward, broke free in front of the St. Peter's goal. He took a shot over the goalie's shoulder, and scored. Affton held on for the final 17 seconds to win the game and move back into first place with a 5-1 record.

Back at home, plans are in the works to mitre down the shattered Z-Bubble into four sections, and turn it into a picture frame for Matt's bedroom. With Kevlar reinforcement, it ought to be good for a couple hundred years...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Magdalen's Second Chance

[Update: In a close game, a very strong St. Margaret Mary team from South County defeated St. Mary Magdalen by the score of 2-0. St. Margaret Mary scored its first goal just before the end of the first half on a rebound from a penalty kick and its second goal on a breakaway midway through the second half.]

Earlier this year, the 7th grade boys baseball team from St. Mary Magdalen parish made it into the City-County championship tournament. They played hard, but lost in the second round of the playoffs. The good news for them? Baseball is not their best sport; soccer is.

Presently they are contending for the CYC City-County championship in the "closed division". ("Closed" means no select players are allowed on your team. If you play "open", you can load up your team with players from "select" leagues).

Even though the Magdalen team plays in the "closed" division, I have seen them beat many "open" division opponents. The team has been playing together since kindgergarten under the excellent coaching of Spiro Cosmas. None of these boys play on any other soccer team; they devote their full soccer effort to the Magdalen parish CYC team.

They have earned their way to play in the championship game of the City-County championship, winning their two qualifying games in convincing fashion, the mercy rule being applied in both matches.

Good luck to all the coaches and players in your championship game!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another 15 Minutes Faster

Determined to catch the earlier bus, I arrived at the Hampton Gravois Bus Center 15 minutes earlier than the day before. The 80 Southampton was already waiting.

A quick check on yesterday's trash pile at the Bus Center revealed that the cleaning crew had been through and picked up the place. Everything looked good, except for a recently emptied, 40-ounce can of Colt 45, set up on one of the recently cleaned seats.

The Southampton driver told me I'd be a lot better off catching the 10 Gravois across the street. So I heeded his advice, crossed Gravois, and waited at the stop.

Standing in the 33 degree misty air, the sky still dark at this early hour, gazing out across the wide expanse which included a Schnucks, a Walgreens, the cozy Hampton/Gravois Bus Center, and a Steak and Shake, but mostly, hundreds of cars travelling in all directions, made me feel like about one in 50,000. Most everyone else was riding by in cars. The few of us waiting for buses were barely noticeable.

Then a man started to cross the street from the Bus Center. An eastbound car on Gravois nearly hit him. The pedestrian had to jump out of its way. After a couple of minutes, the 10 Gravois arrived, and about five of us stepped aboard. The route would be pretty much a straight shot down Gravois towards downtown.

Just before Meramec, we passed under the Gravois Viaduct. I was reminded of the perennial Suburban Journal letter writer who periodically like clockwork writes in to criticize the 14th ward alderman for the deteriorating conditions of this and the nearby Chippewa Viaduct. I wondered, should an individual alderman - elected in the mid-1990s - be held responsible for semi-crumbling, massive, viaducts built in the 1920s or 30s?

A short while later, we stopped near Roosevelt High School at the corner of Gravois and Michigan. A group of high school-aged youths exited the bus. None of the them were carrying any backpacks or books.

The bus continued down Gravois, until it made a swing over to 14th Street to enter downtown proper. It passed the Sheraton Hotel in the old Edison building, and I wondered what the late Don Breckenridge might have done if he had a chance at rehabbing the old Children's Building across Clark Street.

At Tucker and Market, the bus headed east. It turned north on Fourth Street, and I started looking for the most convenient stop. I moved to the front of the bus, and was surprised to learn that the canned-sounding, recorded voices you hear narrating stop and transfer information are actually the driver's, speaking into a small microphone, played back after a 2-second delay.

I exited the bus at 4th and Locust, and walked through the new Federal Reserve Plaza. It's an urban plaza that really works, connecting points of interest together. It's all granite and bronze, lots of horizontal and vertical angles, classic in design, even more beautiful this time of year decorated for the holidays. It felt like a one-block section of mid-town Manhattan was moved to downtown St. Louis.

Walking another block west on Locust, I passed the remains of an abandoned homeless encampment, blocking the doorway of the old Mercantile Library/Boatmen's Bank building. Plans are in the works for this building to soon be converted into another loft housing development. At this point I checked my watch, and was 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

I ran some quick numbers in my head. If I didn't need a car during the day to get around to business meetings, we could save hundreds of dollars every month by riding the bus...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A one-hour tour

Having run into a recent spate of car-related problems (yeah, it's back in the shop again....), I had the opportunity to ride MetroBus. It would be my first time riding it since Metro instituted the new routes, and my first time departing from the newish Gravois/Hampton MetroBus Center.

Readying for my trip, I visited the MetroBus website and downloaded a PDF of the schedule. Possibly due to my limited tech-savvy, when printed, the font on the schedule was scaled so small, I needed a magnifying glass to read it.

I arrived about 20 minutes early for the 7:20 bus. Passing by car, I always enjoyed seeing the new Gravois/Hampton bus depot. It was a positive addition to the Gravois entry into South City. Having had an up close and personal look at it, it was not so impressive.

The waiting areas are equipped with electric heaters. Unfortunately, they were only working on one half of the station. On the side they were working were piles of trash, including an empty liquor bottle, discarded fast food containers, the remains of a lost purse, and strewn stacks of "Playback" magazine. So, instead of sitting amongst the garbage, riders chose to wait it out on the unheated side.

My bus arrived about 15 minutes ahead of its scheduled departure time. I asked the driver if I could wait on the bus. He said "no". I then mentioned to him about the piles of trash in the heated shelter. He said he'd "call someone". Then he disappeared into an auxiliary building for about 15 minutes. Why he didn't come out with a broom and a dustpan to clean up the trashed waiting area, I couldn't explain.

In the meantime, I searched the MetroBus station and the side of my bus unsuccessfully for fare information. At about 7:19 am, the driver invited me aboard. The fare machine read, "$1.65" for a one-way ride. I deposited the fare and took a seat in the rear-third of the bus.

About 7:30 am, we passed the Southampton Presbyterian Church. Not knowing the potential health risks of cel phone antennas, I can say that the visual impact of the device on the church chimney is barely noticeable. Not sure if I ever posted before how I remain one of the world's last remaining cel-phoneless residents.

A block west of Kingshighway, at the southeast corner of Lawn Avenue and Oleatha, we rode by one of the city's top decorated Christmas houses. A must-see on any lights drive...

Turning north onto Kingshighway, the sun was just rising above the purple facade of the Charles Schmitt exotic used car lot.

7:39 am: Traffic jammed briefly on northbound, South Kingshighway, ten riders on the bus.

7:40 am: Pass King Dodge. Wave in direction of the family car in distress. Offer a novena to the auto repair gods.

7:41 am: Pass Steve Smith's "Royale". Sidewalks clean and swept.

7:42 am: Tower Grove Park stop crowded with at least 15 riders waiting for buses.

7:43 am: Overhear fellow passengers bemoaning bad luck drawing "Lotto" numbers.

7:44 am: Eastbound across Magnolia along northern edge of Tower Grove Park. Rising sun shining through the branches of the park's bare trees. Park looks pristine. Nets off the soccer goals.

7:45 am: Enter Shaw neighborhood heading north on Thurman. At corner of Thurman and Shenandoah, pass the remains of the Thurman cafe, housed in the former home of the Garden District Commission. Outdoor seating, tiny wrought iron fence, and outdoor fireplace still positioned for phantom cafe customers.

7:45 am: Eastbound on Shenandoah. Historic Shaw buildings looking better than ever. Out of the whole ride, Shaw neighborhood looks by far the "most improved".

7:49 am: Northbound on 39th. Pass mini-traffic jam at entrance to St. Margaret's of Scotland.

7:50 am: Northern edge of Shaw neighborhood, at Shaw and 39th, pass the only visible signs of remaining neighborhood decay. Cross under Hwy 44, approaching Botanical Heights.

7:51 am: Passing Botanical Heights. Tiny street trees, fresh asphalt, and most of the windows in the new houses having no curtains gives the new neighborhood a sterile feel. Northern edge of Botanical Heights neighborhood, a passenger on the bus shouts out, "Somebody running for the bus!". The driver stops and opens the door. The runner climbs on board. Standing room only now on the bus.

7:56 am: Passing through SLU Hospital land. The area looks sharp. Ever since the start of the ride, there is a noticeable lack of trash blowing through through the city's streets and sidewalks. The neighborhoods looks clean! Passengers on the crowded bus are speaking in muffled tones. The crackle of the driver's radio is audible above the soft conversations of the riders.

7:59 am: Crossing Grand on Park into the Gate District. Years of work started by neighborhood resident LaVerne Foster, and carried on by organizations including SLACO, CF Vatterott, and Pyramid Construction, have resulted in a dramatic, mixed- income, diverse new urban neighborhood built upon the original street and alley grid.

8:04 am: First sight of the Arch and downtown.

8:05 am: Pass under the elevated, double-decker Highway 40 structure connection to Illinois. It still looks like braces hanging across the southern edge of downtown.

8:08 am: Pass the City Hall/Savvis surface parking lot built on the site of the former Children's Building.

8:10 am: Conversation in the back of the bus reduced to talk of b-----s, mo-fo, shid, a--, booty, shid like dat, smack dat shid.

8:12 am: Headed eastbound along Washington Avenue. Abundant signs that groundfloor retail spaces of loft buildings are rapidly filling with tenants.

8:15 am: Overhear two middle-aged ladies riding the bus since Southampton express dismay at the amount and prices of downtown loft housing developments.

8:17 am: Exit bus at the Convention Center, walk the one block to the office. Total trip time from South St. Louis to downtown: 1 hour.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Smart Move By Cards' Management

Matt Morris is now a San Francisco Giant. His 90+ mph fastball and nasty curve will no longer be part of the Cardinal attack. As much as we'll miss his likeable, low-key demeanor and his squeaky, little kid sounding voice, we won't miss him that much as a player.

Despite a good regular season record, Morris wasn't effective in post season, and he's starting to get up in years. The Cardinals offered him arbitration, but apparently Morris had the option to consider other offers.

Enter the Giants. San Francisco picked up Matty Mo, offering him between $24 and $27 million dollars for three years. $8-9 million per year? Hey Morris is good, but he's not that good. Hats off to the Cardinals' brass for knowing where to draw the line.

The bigger question is, with some favorite ex-Cardinals like Matt Morris and Mike Matheny now playing for San Francisco, what will happen to the late 80s, Jeff Leonard/Ozzie Smith/Chili Davis-inspired bad blood rivalry between the Cardinals and the Giants?

Friday, December 09, 2005

All in all...not a bad week!

Or, "Thanks, King Dodge!"

Things didn't start out so well.

On Monday, it looked like Matt's soccer team would be playing through snow drifts later in the week, and I tore a hole in a beautiful leather jacket I had just made a great buy on two days earlier at the ScholarShop...

On Tuesday, our dog was to go in for surgery to remove a fast growing tumor.

And on Wednesday, we were scheduled to have transmission work done on our newer car (a five year old Dodge).

So Tuesday morning, I started off taking the dog to Jewell Animal Clinic on Chippewa. Being low on gas, and having a few extra minutes, I drove across the street for a fill-up. Upon returning to the car, it didn't want to start. Uh-oh. Then it reluctantly fired up.

Driving the one block back to Jewell, I decided better to leave the car running than to risk it dying again. So I walked Hollie in for her surgery, and took my chances with the car.

Leaving the dog in the good hands of the staff at Jewell, I began the trek downtown. The car was going through its recent tranny gyrations, but managed to make it in the rest of the way. However, upon arriving at the top floor of Kiener West garage, the engine warning light illuminated. Now what? Park it and risk being stranded? Or turn around and try limping back to the dealer a day ahead of schedule? I decided to go for it.

Jogging back and forth across side streets, I tried to make it down to King Dodge. Now the tranny would not shift gears. It was stuck in either first or second, and the anxiety of breaking down midway was peaking.

I crossed Utah to Morganford, then over Oleatha to Kingshighway. I made it the couple blocks up Kingshighway, and then jogged through their parking lot to the service area and parked it. I opened the hood, and there was this bad plastic/oil burning smell and some smoke. Was the tranny toast? In thirty years of driving, this would be my first time dealing with a transmission problem.

Now it's all pray, wait, and see, imploring mercy from the auto repair gods. The phone rang at my desk. It was DeeDee from King Dodge service. She had good news and bad news. The good news was she had her "best transmission guy working on it". (I'm thinking, "when is the good news for me going to start?")....and he thought if he tried this and that, the transmission might be fixable for about $950.

The bad news is that our warranty expired 3,000 miles ago (already knew that), and if a new transmission was needed, that would push the cost to $2,500. Ouch. That's about the total value of the car. Sheesh. Okay, so now we're waiting, and praying some more. Christmas this year is starting to look real tight...

DeeDee calls again, and the mechanic is making progress. He wants to try a couple more things, and it just might work. But he finds a broken tie-rod, so more work is needed...

Meanwhile, Kerri and Matt pick up Hollie, and she's doing fine, highly medicated, and totally sedated. The backyard wildlife will have at least a one-day reprieve...

Next day, Thursday, still waiting on the car. About 11:00 am, the phone rings. The repairs worked, but the starting problem is probably related to the battery getting weak. New battery recommended. I agree to have it replaced. The car should be ready about 1:00. Transmission repairs worked!

The shuttle guy and I ride through the snow back to King Dodge. Total cost on the car, about $950 and only about $620 of it is for the transmission work! Thanks, King Dodge! In the distance, I think I hear the sound of sleigh bells ringing...

At home, Hollie is feeling better; we're still waiting for the lab results on her case.

Then around 5:00 pm, CYC officials make the decision to cancel Matt's soccer snow bowl.

We should hear in a day or so about Hollie's situation. If she's okay, then that just leaves finding a leather repair shop to complete this week's domestic survivor drill...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Snow Bound?

The 2005 City-County CYC Soccer Championship Tournament is set to begin this week, with games scheduled to be played on the St. Mary's High School field off of South Grand.

With temps holding below freezing and 1-3 inches of snow predicted, the game may look more like a Packers/Vikings game than a South St. Louis tussle...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Old St. Louis

This morning we had a handyman come over to do some small repairs. He's a little-sized guy, about 65, and a 2005 heart attack survivor.

While looking at a quirky bathroom we have on the main floor, he commented how "you can still by those tiny "zinks" in stores.

I haven't heard that expression in well over a year, and have never heard anyone under the age of 55 use it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Street Trees, Part 2

Our city is blessed with a superior urban forest. Not including the trees in parks and on private property, the city counts 80,000 street trees at a value of about $133,000,000. Mature shade trees make our neighborhoods more beautiful and help conserve energy.

The city Forestry Division does an excellent job maintaining and expanding our stock of street trees. They do it with crews of tree surgeons and arborists, assisted by only two inspectors, one north and one south, tracking the health of trees and when necessary, removing and replacing them for public safety purposes.

Trees are things most of us appreciate, especially when they provide us cooling shade on a hot summer day. We gather under them at block parties. We rest under them. They are part of our community. They are impressive. They are real urbanism.

In Asheville, North Carolina, they have established a Tree Response Committee to support the care and maintenance of street trees. Even for Sweet Gums...

In the spirit of community building, and engaging residents in neighborhood improvement, we could start a new program for concerned citizens and volunteer tree experts to promote expanding the stock of street trees and supporting the city's efforts protecting trees in distress. Such a program would heighten awareness of our outstanding urban forest, and create another opportunity for citizens to work together for the long-term improvement of our community.

There are lots of potential ways to engage citizens in looking out for the welfare of our lush tree canopy, and we'd be reinforcing another of the positive messages about St. Louis.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Our Awesome Street Trees

Among the nicest amenities about living in our older city neighborhoods are the mature and abundant street trees. The city has a generous program of planting and caring for street trees planted in the tree lawn area (public right of way) situated between the sidewalk and the street.

Given that street trees are public property, it was sad seeing a healthy, mature Sweet Gum at the end of our street cut down today. This particular block already has a number of houses lacking street trees.

The city will remove street trees if they are causing property damage. Previously, the sidewalk near this tree was being elevated by the tree's roots. That might explain why this big dude was reduced to firewood. As sad as it is seeing one of our majestic trees lost, it is comforting to know that the City Forestry Division is on the job daily caring for and expanding our stock of beautiful shade trees!

Don't have a street tree? Get one! Neighbors don't have one? Work on them! In July, our block is all shade thanks to street trees. Summertime temps are 10 degrees cooler thanks to the street trees. In summer, neighborhood walkers prefer our block, and it ain't for the nice neighbors...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Middle of the Road

Yesterday I was headed towards the Poplar Street Bridge for a meeting in East St. Louis. Driving through the intersection of Spruce and Third Streets, I caught a glimpse of what must have been the only remains from some earlier traffic accident. Set neatly against the concrete railing above the I-70 depressed lanes was the nearly perfect grill and logo from a late model Ford.

Bordered in chrome-look plastic, lightweight and measuring about 26" wide by 5" tall, with tight black honeycomb grillwork and the distinctive blue Ford logo, it would make a great addition to the wall decorations of a boy's room. So I made a mental note to pull over in the Old Cathedral parking lot on the return trip to see if it was still there.

About an hour later, I returned to the scene, parked the car, and walked across the traffic lanes to the center island. Sure enough, there it was, unclaimed in the same spot. Arriving home after work, I presented it to Matt as a wall hanging for his room.

"Cool" was his immediate response. We cleaned it up and found a good place for it, hanging above his dresser.

Texas Inspiration

The November 28th, 2005 edition of Wall Street Journal had an excellent front page story detailing the introduction of downtown housing into Dallas. WSJ stories are only available to subscribers, so pick up a copy, or check it out at the local library.

On the webfront, this loft living website provides a wide variety of information about downtown/urban living options throughout the south/central parts of the US.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Fall ball

This year's pumpkin crop must have been especially healthy. When we loaded up the old pumpkins for the trash, they were still firm.

Over the weekend, we began the yard changeover from fall decorations to Christmas. With Christmas lights and reindeer taking the place of Indian corn and pilgrim flair, Matt's long wait to smash the Halloween pumpkins had reached its end.

We went to the basement to find the appropriate tools of destruction. Sledge hammers or baseball bats? Let's go old school. Wooden baseball bats.

With two bats, we walked out to the alley. We wrapped the pumpkins in see-through plastic, and each took a turn pitching the wrapped pumpkins to the other. From about 6 feet, Matt waited for the first pumpkin pitch. Thwack! A solid line drive - about four feet. Then my turn.

The pitch came into the upper part of the strike zone. Swoosh! The bat split the pumpkin. It didn't cover any distance, but it continued to break down into smaller pieces. It would still good for a couple more hacks, this time of the vertical toss and swing variety. After a total of about five of the pinata-type pumpkin blasts, the first pumpkin was spent. We repeated the entire process with the second pumpkin.

With the destruction done, both smashed up pumpkins remained sealed in their plastic wraps. The whole affair lasted about five minutes. The pumpkins went into the dumpster, and we returned to our winter yard decoration makeover.

This was a first for us, a father-son pumpkin smash up. Matt had been looking forward to smashing the pumpkins for weeks, and the alley turned out to be the perfect place for their undoing. For late November, we both enjoyed being able to take a few swings with a baseball bat.

More and more as Matt matures as a young man, it's getting harder to find easy moments where we connect father and son. Who would have thought it would have happened with a pumpkin, a couple of trash bags, an alley, and pair of baseball bats?

Friday, November 25, 2005

West Main in Belleville

Belleville is one of the historic towns in St. Clair County, Illinois. It is situated just southeast of East St. Louis.

Belleville is the county seat of St. Clair County, and home to one of oldest Catholic Dioceses in the state of Illinois. The center of Belleville is at the intersection of 1st Street (Hwy 159) and Main. About 3 blocks southwest you will find the Cathderal of the Belleville Diocese, one of the best examples of gothic architecture in the Midwest, with flying buttresses supporting a vaulted ceiling close to 200 feet in height.

Surrounding downtown are historic neighborhoods dating to the 1830s. On the east of downtown, the homes are larger on larger lots, but to the west side, in a lower- lying area along both sides of West Main, the homes are much smaller, nearly all brick, and nearly fully intact.

Travelling west on West Main towards St. Louis is like travelling through time. For about five miles you see the changes in architectural style as Belleville built out from the 1830s to modern times. You pass the historic SkyView Drive-In theater, with its original marquis that features a space vehicle that looks half rocket ship, half jet plane.

Finding your way into the historic heart of Belleville can be a little difficult. The easiest way to find it is to take Hwy 159 south from Interstate 64. It will take you right into the heart of town. Once you're familair with the area, there are many alternate routes to get there, including West Main, which is the old highway connecting Belleville to points west.

Visiting historic Belleville makes me wonder if anyone has ever created a historic map of the St. Louis region, showing the neighborhoods that would have existed in the 1860s-1890s. It would be a great resource for people interested in exploring those places today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Neighborhood Group Takes Lead on Vacant Avalon Theater

With the goal of improving South Kingshighway, the Southampton Neighborhood Association is taking steps toward filing a nuisance property lawsuit against the owner of the vacant and deteriorating Avalon Theater.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Time Banks

Here's an interesting approach to get more people invested into your community or school:

"...If you want to make change happen you need to go beyond theories and engage in practice."

Call and Response

In the Community Service Exchange guitar lesson program, we've got five kids taking lessons, and resulting contributions have been forwarded to the Thanksgiving basket program at the Riverview West Florissant Development Corporation. So far, so good.

On the guitar teaching side, one of the methods I support is ear playing and improvisation from the very beginning with new students. Attempting to improvise musically is a strange feeling for someone who's never done it before. It's not natural. You're trying to make music out of your intuition. You're trying to create something, and there's no chance to erase or start over. If what you're playing sounds bad, your natural inclination is to stop.

What you play is out there. So we've got to get the kids to think differently. First, they have to just do it. We can teach them technique and scales, chord progressions and how to play them with good form and tone. But to take those basics and then turn them into intuitively ear-played improvisation is rising to a new level as a musician.

Yesterday on KWMU, there was a program about Blues music and the tradition of "call and response". In the style, one person sings out a line, and then a chorus sings in reply.

I've mentored young musicians about improvisation to think in terms of phrasing. To try to link together scale phrases in rhythmic fashion creating musical passages. Maybe the notion of "call and response" would work even better. Whether in terms of connecting to a chord progression, or another melodic phrase.

We'll give it a try.

Monday, November 21, 2005

When to fight?

Our son is entering a stage in life when lots of the boys are starting to feel their oats.

He's a strong, tough kid; but he's never been in a real fight. Playing hockey, he's a physical, fast player, but he's not one of the guys to take a lot of penalties; he plays a clean game.

Nonetheless, he's starting to run into more kids who want to challenge him. Today, during a recess football game, he was tripped to the ground and then kicked in rapid succession by one of the boys. He stood up, and pushed the kid away. The kid doing the kicking is an okay kid, same grade, but way smaller than Matt. The kid thinks he's tough, or at least he's trying to act that way...

So, I'm wondering: when it would be okay for Matt to fight back?

If the same kid comes back again and charges him, and Matt pushes him away again, that would make two times, counting today. So, if the kid comes back a third time, and Matt pushes him away, and this time raises his fists in a defensive posture, warning the kid to stay away, would that be okay?.

Then, if the kid charges one more time, and throws the first punch, and Matt blocks his punch, and then slugs him one time in the stomach, would the kid have it coming? Or should Matt just keep blocking the kids punches and pushing him away? That's the question. I guess if he did that, the other kid would look kind of silly.

As a twelve year old, at what point do you fight back? I ask this figuring if things continue on their current path, we may all be sitting down soon with the school principal...

Meanwhile, on the hockey front, the Affton "Gold Division" House Peewees (the place where lots of South City Kids play their ice hockey), remain undefeated in league play, having just completed a home and home weekend series sweep against their St. Louis County Chesterfield Falcons rivals.

Enright west of Grand

Whenever I'm out driving between 3 and 5 pm on a Monday through Friday, I avoid the interstates as much as possible. During those hours, I've found you can make it across the entire city from downtown to Wellston faster by following the 25 mph speed limit on city streets, than by taking Highway 40 to Skinker.

Last week I was headed westbound across town on Delmar. A few blocks west of Grand, Delmar has been vacated to make way for the new Cardinal Ritter Prep High School campus. You have to make either a left (south) or right (north) turn. I turned right.

One block north brought me to Enright, along the northern edge of Cardinal Ritter. I made a left and continued heading west.

If you're ever in the area, check out Enright. It's a beautiful street. The homes are all elevated about 8-10 feet above street level. It's one of the most historically intact blocks in the north central part of the city I've found.

Maybe I'll give someone a digital camera for Christmas...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Down Under

One of the nicest things about having all the different neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis is that it gives us a framework around which to build community. We can work on our own neighborhood projects or we can partner with other neighborhoods on larger efforts. Most city neighborhoods have long established and very powerful community organizations.

Through these groups we have a way to meet our neighbors and address local or city-wide concerns. The organizations help build the foundation for our long range community efforts.

Across the oceans, in the Australian state of Victoria, there is a major effort underway to strengthen the region's cities through planned community building activities. Through this gateway you can get lots of interesting ideas for projects and activities from our neighbors on the other side of the world.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"My Old School"

If making more good music would help make the world a better place, and there were more people who played guitar like the guys in Steely Dan (no...we're not talking about St. Louis High Schools...), then this is our small way to help make that happen.

"My Old School" is one of Steely Dan's best songs, and this tablature is an excellent transcription of the tune, chord for chord. As great as the song sounds, it is really easy to play.

So tune your guitar, print out the link, que the record, play along, have some fun, and make someone smile!

Down On The Corner

One of the best things about St. Louis is the abundance of independent businesses that specialize in personal service and high quality products.

Whether you're shopping for a homemade sausage, an old fashioned tire repair, a homemade cookie, school supplies, independent restaurants, or many other items, in St. Louis there's usually an independent business offering what you need.

The other day I was looking for a vinyl cover for a drawing table and not having much luck. With computer aided design now dominating the day to day work of architects and engineers, it's getting harder to find the equipment for old-fashioned drawing by hand.

I tried Bradburns, Home Depot, Kinko's, and none of them had the right stuff. The last hope was Rotolite of St. Louis, located down at the end of our block. It's a graphic arts, architect's, and engineer's supply house. Sure enough, they had exactly what I was looking for, in stock, and in multiple sizes. Since we're neighbors, they even accepted a temporary check with my name and address information written by hand. Hand written...well of course!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

724 Union

Almost right across the street from the Soldan High School football stadium, about a block north of Delmar on Union, you'll find 724 Union.

Engraved above the entrance are the letters "YMHA", dating back to the days when the impressive building served as the fourth home to the Young Men's Hebrew Association.

Today the building is very much in use as the West End Community Center. In the building you will find a University of Missouri extension office, a number of activities for neighborhood youth, and the offices of the West End Community Conference, a community based organization working on neighborhood revitalization.

The building also houses one of the nicest gymnasiums in the city. It includes two full size, wood floor, basketball courts, situated end-to-end, in a room that is about 250 long.

5250 Enright is the side door entrance to the basketball courts

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bank of America Honors SLACO, Downtown Now!

Tonite at the Pageant Theater, Bank of America honored SLACO and Downtown Now! with this year's "Neighborhood Builders" award.

Both organizations have been instrumental in bringing together people and resources to help rebuild city neighborhoods.

Congratulations to Gina Ryan, Executive Director of SLACO, and Tom Reeves, Executive Director of Downtown Now! for receiving this year's awards.

Keep Kids Alive-Drive 25

A lot of things go into making a neighborhood a nice place to live. Good educational opportunities, lots of street trees, beautiful architecture, and nice neighbors are some of them. Another is having automobile traffic that is driving at a safe speed.

Traffic calming is something that a lot of neighborhoods consider as a way to slow down speeding traffic. However, retrofitting an existing neighborhood with traffic calming measures can be a difficult, expensive proposition. Many neighbors object to any changes.

One very low cost alternative to slow down traffic in your neighborhood is the "Keep Kids Alive-Drive 25" program. It started in the upper midwest by a gentleman by the name of Tom Everson. Keep Kids Alive-Drive 25 is a public awareness campaign about promoting safe driving in residential areas.

I serve as a volunteer contact for the program for the St. Louis area. If anyone has any questions about bringing the Keep Kids Alive-Drive 25 program to their neighborhood, just drop me a line or ask about it here on the website.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Q: How Do You Convert a Californian?

A: Take them to the City Museum.

Yesterday, our California relatives visited the City Museum with their 3 and 5 year old sons, and our son Matt as their guest.

At the end of the day, we all met up at Kitchen K. None of them could stop raving about the City Museum. They were saying how they wished they had something like City Museum where they lived, but there is no other place like it.

Seth, the three year old, is still learning how to put his words together into sentences. He couldn't stop talking about the City Museum.

In the middle of dinner, I felt this little hand tapping on my shoulder. It was Seth, wanting to tell some more about his trip to City Museum with his cousin Matt. The conversation went something like this...

"Amb wuh when upb bwuh stayers, am im wuh caves, am DOWM wuh big swide (big smile coming over his face now...) am wib MATT!! (smiling, laughing, in total glee now...) yeah...yeah....(more smiles)".

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Best of St. Louis

St. Louis is a special place with great people and many wonderful things to see and do. There are lots of "best of" annual lists, usually written up based on category..."best restaurant", "best place for kids", "best haircut", etc.

Well, what if you were to make a list of what's best about St. Louis, regardless of category? What sorts of things would you include? It might be a place, a person, or a neighborhood; a restaurant, a museum, or a creative spirit, or even an organization-you name it.

What's our top ten? (Or twenty...) What's best about St. Louis?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Local Blog Advocate

Bill Keaggy is a features photo editor for the Post Dispatch. He also helps to promote local blogs through regular briefs he writes for the Everyday section of the Post. Thanks Bill for supporting the St. Louis blog world!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tom Sawyer at MoBot?

The other day I was waiting at the airport reading some promotional fliers and free magazines about St. Louis.

One magazine mentioned a new attraction at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Sort of a historic Missouri river scene for kids, including a manmade cave, a historic riverfront, and some other Mark Twain-ish sorts of things.

Has anyone visited this yet? Given the top quality of everything done at the Botanical Garden, maybe this is really excellent. Any recommendations?

On another note...sometime check out the Union Station flier at one of the Lambert Information Booths. It features a map that shows Washington Avenue ending around 8th street, and then starting back up again somewhere around 20th...That would be a whole lot of lofts unaccounted for!

That was no accident!

When my mom left a copy of John Jakes' new novel, California Gold, in the car, it wasn't an accident. She brought it to St. Louis on purpose for Matt to read. It's part of what she called his "homeward bound" series....ah ha! The grandparents are trying to corrupt his young impressionable mind with thoughts of moving back to California!

Well, before he gets started reading California Gold, I've given him a couple of other recommendations about books he should read....

From Log Cabin to White House, the story of James Garfield, a good midwestern boy who grew up strong to become the 20th president of the United States; and, The Universal Traveler, a book about creative problem solving and the design process.

In the meantime, maybe I ought to leave a copy of this article in the folks' hotel room for their reading enjoyment on the plane ride home...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Accidentally on Purpose?

The whole California relative crew just arrived for a big convention being hosted this week in St. Louis. Since the Renaissance Grand Hotel was booked solid, they're staying across the street at the Roberts Mayfair Hotel, which is working out great.

The Grandparents Bonasch will never completely forgive us for leaving California 12-plus year ago, with Kerri 8 months pregnant with their first grandson (Matt). Whenever we see them, we're always reminded of subtle reasons that we should be in California. Typically, the conversation will drift to the hardship of dealing with Missouri weather. It's nice how for this visit, Mother Nature is offering up some of the best weather of the year.

Yesterday, Grandpa Dr. B got to join on the high school tour outing with Matt and me. We visited St. John Vianney in Kirkwood and St. Mary's on S. Grand. Our Mayor, and Aldermen Gregali and Wessels would be glad to learn that Grandpa was more impressed with St. Mary's than Vianney.

Still, they'll never get over how we pulled up stakes and moved 2,000 miles east away from the family home. Compounding the situation, a couple of years ago, I convinced my sister to move here from California as well. Maybe that explains why when I got in the car this morning, I found a copy of John Jakes latest novel, California Gold lying on the floor of the car?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Hidden Historics

With the century-plus age of many of our neighborhoods, followed by demolition and new construction in some places, it is not uncommon to find historic buildings interwoven in our modern urban fabric. A good example is the Clemens house on Cass in North City.

There are many others. If you drive the area near Powell Hall, sandwiched between surface parking lots are individual homes that were built in the 19th century. Another place you see scattered historic buildings surrounded by many vacant lots and some new construction is around the Scott Joplin House.

Many of these buildings are in places where so much of the original historic material has been lost, that the area is no longer eligible for historic district status. And if the buildings themselves don't have any culturally historic significance, they aren't eligible for individual listing on the National Register.

So what about them? Should they be prioritized for preservation, or should our preservation resources be targeted into more intact historic areas?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Northside Holiday Gift Basket Drive

With the holidays fast approaching, many in our community work to help provide holiday gift baskets to families with very low incomes. These gifts help brighten the holiday season for our neighbors.

One organization working to spread good cheer is the Riverview West Florissant Development Corporation. The RWFDC serves the Walnut Park and Mark Twain neighborhoods of North St. Louis, near Calvary Cemetary. They rely on donations from individuals and local retailers to make the gift program work.

If you are interested in helping Riverview West Florissant succeed on this project, please contact Cecilia Penny at their office, telephone (314)382-9000, for more information. By mail, their address is 6000 West Florissant, St. Louis, MO 63136.

Please consider making a donation. Any size contribution will help Riverview West Florissant make the holiday season brighter for another of our neighbors. The Riverview West Florissant Development Corporation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Benton Park West Art Show and Silent Auction

"Community Portraits of Benton Park West"

by the 2005 Artists/Apprentices of ArtWorks

Presented by St. Louis Artworks to benefit the Benton Park West Neighborhood Association and sponsored by the the Incarnate Word Foundation.

Admission is free. Meet the artists. Refreshments provided.

Date: Sunday, November 13
Time: 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Place: Cherokee Place Business Incubator, 2715 Cherokee

Packages of notecards with a sampling of the art work available for a $5 donation to the BPWNA.

For more information please call the Incarnate Word Foundation, 773-5100.

Restorations Plus

One of the prides of the Carondelet neighborhood is Restorations Plus, a local provider of artistic restoration services, specializing in religious art. Their work in helping to preserve our beautiful religious institutions in St. Louis is wonderful.

Visit their old and new websites to learn more about their history and services.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Life without Hwy 40

I just read a desperate email posted to the StLouist about the proposed closing of Highway 40 for reconstruction.

The poster wrote that without Hwy 40, he and many other St. Louis area residents couldn't even find their way into the City. "You might as well close the Zoo" he said.

If there's one thing St. Louis offers, it's alternate routes. Does the proposed closing of Highway 40 mean the end of the civilized world as we know it? Or could it break some lifelong St. Louisans of their highway driving routines, helping them to learn their way around more like non-natives?

Credit the kids...and their parents

In spite of a steady rain, we had between 150 and 200 trick or treaters last nite. The cutest one was a year and a half old pirate. He even said "thank you!"

Matt went out as a zombie rocker, with a skeleton face mask, spiked mohawk, studded and fingerless leather gloves, a spiked dog collar, black boots, jeans, a sleeveless, glow- in-the-dark skeleton t-shirt, see-through nylon arm sleeves covered in tatoos, strapped on to a trashed 1960s-vintage Japanese electric guitar (recovered from one of the dumpsters). He looked great. For one day...

Just so long as he limits the spikes, dog collar, and tatoos to Halloween, everything will be just fine!

Monday, October 31, 2005

No Phone

I don't have a cel phone. Can't stand the things. They're expensive, easy to lose, and unreliable. Nonetheless, it seems almost everyone else has one.

When people learn I don't carry a cel phone, they get that taken aback look on their faces; when kids ask to borrow my cel phone, they're even more stunned when they find out I don't have one.

In the building where I work, people are glued to their cel phones. Rather than greet the people around them, they scurry about from the sidewalk, through the lobby, and onto the elevator, never looking up, engrossed in cel phone conversations.

Same thing with people in their cars. Whenever someone makes a dunce-headed driving move, the first thing I look for is a cel phone. Most of the time, sure enough, they're talking on it.

The other day, KMOX morning news host Debbie Monterey was lamenting our society's growing dependence on cel phones. What dependence? We survived fine before cel phones. Debbie wishes she didn't have to have one. That's easy, just get rid of it! Leave it on the shelf!

I never miss not having one. I feel freer NOT having one. I figure I'm saving at least $50 a month not having one. Besides, unless I'm on a long distance road trip (very seldom), I'm never more than 5 minutes away from a regular land line phone. What's the rush to have instant phone access at all times?

Uncomplicate your life! Ditch your cel phone!!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Talking In Code

On the ride home from work today, I heard a segment of the Sean Hannity program on 97.1 FM, the conservative talk radio station in St. Louis. Hannity was lamenting a lot of the recent travails surrounding the Bush White House. He chalked a lot of it up to a type of left-wing person he describes as a "Child Of The Sixties".

A "Child Of The Sixties? Is he talking about me?

I was a child during the Sixties. I grew up in a sprawl suburb smack dab between UC Berkeley and Altamont. Born in 1959, and if the math is right, turned 13 in 1973. I remember Viet Nam, Patty Hearst, People's Park, Kent State, and 1968.

Looking back, the Sixties were a l-o-n-g time ago. Four decades (or is it five?). That would be like me back in 1977 calling someone a "Child Of The 30s". Huh? No one ever said anything like that. How could we even relate?

The 1930s was a decade out of the history books, the high (or more appropriate *low*) point of the Great Depression.

Nonetheless an equal timespan is being invoked today to discredit some people from participating in our current political discourse.

A lot of the people reading this blog were probably not even born by the 1970s, let alone the '60s. So when they hear someone like a Sean Hannity complain that a modern-day political critic is a "Child Of The Sixties", do they even care?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Scam Warning

Just received an overseas phone call (from India to be precise) requesting a donation to the "Junior Police Academy".

After I ask a few questions about the weather and the economy in India, the original solicitor transfers the call to his "manager". The manager asks if there is "a problem", then refers me to this website. The link takes you to the organization's IRS Form 990.

Look closely...anyone see a red flag raised by the numbers in this report? (For a hint, check out line 30 of the form....)

BIG New Something Rising on The Landing

Just drove into downtown from East St. Louis via the McKinley Bridge, and saw a major new project under construction in the Laclede's Landing riverfront neighborhood.

Based on the size of the basement excavation, it's going to be a huge, skyline redefining project. Any word on what it is? It looks like the footprint for a new hotel or high rise apartment building.

Monday, October 24, 2005

STL Stands Up for Gays In Military

In a resolution adopted last week, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen calls for an end to the US military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.


No, this entry is not about that famous brewer in South City. It's about the practice in elementary school sports of dividing kids up according to their skill level. Some places call it "gold and silver". Whatever you call it, "structuring" teams according to skill level is a source of constant discontent.

Now in so-called "select" (private) leagues, structuring teams comes with the territory. Young athletes enter these programs seeking a higher level of competition, so the idea of dividing kids up by their skill level furthers that purpose.

However, in school leagues, it's a whole different situation. "Making an A-team" can be a big deal for a kid, or it can be equally frustrating and disappointing for the ones who don't.

Parents get angry about A/B decisions, and systems to select kids for the A or B team are far from perfect. This past weekend, I heard a story about a parent in a suburban school district threatening to sue the school's athletic association if they ended the A-B split. This particular parent didn't want his son playing with "B" level players.

Rationale for having structured teams in school sports varies. One argument is that if you don't structure the teams, the better players will all go to the select leagues. Huh? Aren't they doing this already??

The main reason it happens is for that great all-time rationale, because "everyone else is doing it". If "School A" has an upper and lower division team, and your school "balances" its teams, then you have a problem competing against the other school. Your team is too strong for the "B" team level, and too weak for the "A" team level. To address the inbalance, the athletic association at your school justifies the decision to structure its teams in order to be competitive with other schools. It's about remaining competitive in the quest to win championships.

However, is that the purpose of elementary school sports? To win championships? It's supposed to be about a lot more than that. However, as long as league rules sanction the formation of A/B teams at the grade school level, the practice will continue. Was your child ever cut?

I wonder what you'd find out if you asked kids what they think about having separate A and B teams?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Historic Steak'n Shake Restaurants To Come Down

A general manager of one of our local Steak'n Shake restaurants told me this morning that within a couple of years all of the original Steak'n Shake restaurants in the St. Louis area will be torn down and replaced with larger stores.

They make excellent hamburgers (excuse me...I mean..Steakburgers) and milkshakes, but this is sad news. I wonder if they would be interested in some federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits?

Magdalen Lanes

Attended a private party last nite at Magdalen Lanes. What a hidden gem this place is! Some friends of ours booked the whole facility to celebrate their daughter's 40th birthday. They had exclusive use of the place from 7 - 11 PM.

If I heard the bartender/bowling lane mechanic correctly, the flat rate to rent the facility is something like $100 per hour. They let you bring in your own food, and the beer, wine, and soft drink prices are very reasonable. The place has ten nice bowling lanes, a pin ball arcade, and lots of places to just hang out and visit with friends.

Among the 150 or so in attendance, there were elected officials with their families, many neighborhood regulars, lots of parents with their kids (we recruited a new catcher for next year's South Sox team), and one lady regular of Magdalen parish. (She has attended every parish event we've ever been to for over 12 years. She doesn't need an invitation. She just shows up, helps out, and keeps the place nice. I get the impression she lives somewhere on the church property, but people say that's not true.)

She said across the street over at Magdalen Church, they're getting ready to remodel the interior of the building (pretty gutsy of them, considering the A-D just closed their school), and that their longtime priest, Monsignor Doerhoff, has been transferred to a parish in South County, so they have a new priest.

Magdalen Lanes offers other affordable package deals for smaller sized groups if you don't want to rent out the whole place.

For a party for one or two hundred of your closest friends, you can't beat it. Stop by their facility off of South Kingshighway to check it out and get more information.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Don't know how this made it by the editors....

STL Rising Gets A Plug

(Scroll all the way down)

Role Models

Yesterday, after the Cards lost the Series to Houston, it seemed like the baseball season was pretty much over, at least here in St. Louis. It was a great year, with some inspiring players. Guys like David Eckstein are the kind of people you want young players to emulate.

Last nite, a meeting on the Illinois side made me late for dinner. After a late start, we barbequed and had a relaxing dinner til around 9:00. Earlier in the day, a package arrived from Matt's hockey coach. Last weekend, we held Matt out of all of his sports activities, since he wasn't working hard enough in school and around the house. Hope we don't have to do that again. Not sure that sort of discipline really works.

Even though it was dark, and we were in the middle of making dinner, Matt wanted to show me a pitch he had been working on. That would have to wait, but it's hard turning down a game of catch. After dinner, the rain had stopped, so at about 9:15 we went down to the park. We found a good new spot under some lights for a catch. We tossed it around for about 15 minutes, and Matt was making some good pitches.

After watching Oswalt mow down the Cardinals, I think Matt has a better idea of what it means when someone talks about "leg drive". Driving through and finishing his pitches, he was throwing the ball noticeably harder. Pretty soon, I won't be feeling completely safe catching for him.

When we returned home, we went through the package his hockey coach had sent. It was full of team information, ice times, and other good stuff. There was also a hand written note to Matt. For anyone involved with kids sports, this note was one of the best things I've seen come down from a coach to a player.


Sorry we missed you this last weekend. I'm sure some of the guys told you about last Friday night's loss.

Keep your grades up. They're a lot more important than hockey! Besides, we're going to need you this year.

Work hard at school and at the rink. No more benchings from home, ok?

See you Saturday.


Lots of people put in a lot of hours coaching kids sports, but too many get the priorities way out of whack. They act like the whole thing is more for the adults than the kids.

We'll save the note from Matt's hockey coach. We might pin it to the wall in his room. I might pin it to mine.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Perfect Weather

It's cool, gray, and raining softly today. This rain is not the hard driving, warm weather thunderstorm variety. It's a moody, quiet, sit by a fire sort of rain.

This is definitely not baseball weather. Fall is here, and winter is coming fast. The cool and gray is good for today. Baseball is over for the year. Busch is coming down. It's too early to think about next year.

Most years, St. Louis is blessed with other good professional sports teams to carry us over til Spring Training. But this year, the Blues and Rams are not looking very promising.

We'll be paying more attention to SLU soccer, Affton hockey, and CYC basketball. When those are through, the new Busch will be getting ready to open, the Cards will be starting new in Florida, and the warm weather will be back again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Memory Made

Last nite was beautiful weather, but after the Cardinals stunning 2-out, ninth inning, comeback victory over the Astros, it wasn't a good nite for sleeping. My mind is still overcharged from the wattage flowing from Pujol's bat.

In games like these, Kerri can't stand to watch the television. Matt and I were watching it, and the game played out very slowly. The Cardinals took an uncomfortable 2-1 lead late into the game. You had a sinking feeling there was no way the one run Cardinal lead would hold up. Especially in the "Juice Box"

Then on a weak swing, the Astros' Berkmann connects for a 3-run, opposite field home run into the short porch "Crawford Boxes" 318 feet away in left, giving the Astros a 4-2 lead. With the Cardinals now having to deal with the Astos lights-out bullpen in the 8th and 9th innings, things looked grim.

It was closing in on 11:00 PM, way past Matt's bedtime, and we're watching the Astros methodically erase the Cardinals hopes. I was getting close to turning off the television and sending Matt to bed, but this was one of those times when it seemed more important to let him stay up watch the game together, win or lose, til the end.

In the 9th inning, the Astros came with their closer, Brad Lidge. He dominated the first two Cards' in the ninth, J-Rod and John Mabry, with fast balls hitting 97 miles per hour and sliders that were exploding down in the strike zone. The Cardinals were down to their final out, trailing by two runs, facing the hardest thrower in major league baseball, and Tony LaRussa couldn't have had things set up better for a Cardinal comeback.

The next batter was David Eckstein. I'm thinking to myself: there's no way Eckstein lets himself make the last out in this Cardinal's season. Lidge gets him to two strikes, but then Eckstein grounds sharply into the hole between short and third for a single. The Astros were within one strike from going to their first World Series ever, but now they would have to face at least one more Cardinal. Enter Jim Edmonds. The Astros fans were going crazy. They had been on their feet screaming since the 8th inning.

Edmonds had been in a similar situation last year, coming to bat in game six of of the NLCS against Houston, winning the game with a walk-off home run and sending the series to game seven. But this time, the Cardinals didn't need a home run; they needed another base runner. Fox starts going nostalgic on Busch Stadium, retelling some of the great moments about the soon-to-be-demolished ballpark.

Edmonds stood in against Lidge, and Fox announcer, Bob Brenly, a former major league catcher, notices something off in Lidge's rhythm. Edmonds works Lidge for a walk, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in Albert Pujols. Earlier in the game, Fox showed a sign hung on the stadium wall that read "Walk Pujols". The Astros infield and pitching coach met on the mound to ready Lidge to face Albert. Brenly says, "Better not get those wrecking balls out just yet..."

On the first pitch, Lidge fools Albert with a wicked slider down in the zone. Strike one. The Astros fans are going nuts. On the second pitch, Lidge hangs a slider out over the middle of the plate. Throughout the series, the Cardinals were swinging at bad pitches, and taking good ones. Not this time. Albert had a bead on the ball, and he connected with it in classic Pujols fashion.

On slow motion instant reply, Astro's starting pitcher Andy Pettitt mouthed the words "O-h m-y g-o-d". With a one strike count, Pujols launched a monster 3-run home run shot that went over the stadium wall beyond the left field grand stand, landing on the silly train tracks that run high above the Crawford Boxes. Matt and I jumped up and exchanged "High-5s". Upstairs, Kerri could hear shouts of celebration coming through the open windows of neighbor's homes up and down the street.

The Cards had a 5-4 lead. They never gave the dimensions of the home run. It might have travelled 500 feet. The Astros fans were crestfallen. From deafening cheers to stunned silence with one mighty swing of the bat. Watching from a luxury box, Nolan Ryan had a look of total disbelief on his face.

Cards closer Jason Isringhausen took the 5-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth and pitched flawlessly. He shut the Astros down 1-2-3, securing the victory and sending the Series back to St. Louis.

We went upstairs and talked about the unlikely win for another half hour.

Eckstein the spark plug. Edmonds the seasoned veteran. Pujols the legend. It was all too much to believe. There wouldn't be much sleeping tonite. At least for me. We sent Matt to bed, and he was out after about five minutes. I'm not sure if I ever really made it into a deep sleep the whole night.

I think I am starting to understand why people love baseball. It's not so much whether your home team wins or loses. We just love the game. Memories are made. The love of the game is passed on from one generation to the next. Late at nite. Past bedtime. We want the season to continue. Everything comes down to one pitch, one out, one game, win or lose. Last nite, the Cards won it.

Now it's one more game for Busch...maybe two, maybe more...

Excellent article on Pujol's heroics: ESPN-How Pujols Changed the World

Monday, October 17, 2005

Painting by Flashlight

This weekend was a good one for doing a lot things besides watching the Cardinals hopes fade down at Houston's Minute Maid ("Juice Box") Park. Plus, since Matt was sitting out his sports activities for providing too little effort on school work and chores around the house, we had his help all weekend to work with us on our collective "to-do" list.

Our place is one of the oldest homes in the neighborhood, and as a result has a slightly wider lot than most. Typical gangways run 8 feet or so; ours is closer to 14. When we bought the home, there were no fences, which wouldn't work with a family dog. Over time, we've been completing the fences.

The one in the west gangway was the most complicated to design because of the layout of our yard and the neighbor's lot. By building it, we would be permanently enclosing part of the neighbor's yard into our lot. It's always been an area that we've maintained since it's on the back side of their garage and inaccessible from their yard. Nonetheless, permanently enclosing it into our yard makes the situation appear more official in terms of them acceding part of their lot to ours.

So, for a couple of years we've talked with the neighbors about how to work it, while avoiding any downstream legal entanglements. We agreed on the concept of preparing a shared access and licensing arrangement, no prescriptive easement implied or otherwise, and so we started building the fence this weekend.

It's solid wood, three posts set in concrete, to be painted all-white, with a gate and arbor creating a nice entry into the backyard.

From their kitchen window early this morning, the neighbors might have seen me painting by flashight. Hopefully, when the project's complete, they'll believe the end result makes both homes look better.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Time Extended

St. Louis has a reputation for being one of the most haunted cities in the country. I wonder if the ghosts of Busch Stadium are weighing in on this year's post season?

If it weren't for the Cardinals making it to the post season, the wrecking ball would already be knocking down Busch.

And now, having the season extended for at least one more series, Busch will play host for another week of baseball.

If we win the League Championship Series against Houston, then Busch Stadium will host the World Series, and baseball will be played in old Busch until the end of October.

Leaving one to wonder if we end up winning the World Series this year, are we setting up the "Busch Stadium Curse"?

Busch Stadium ends its run in glory, giving St. Louis a World Series Championship, only to curse future generations of St. Louisans with a hundred-year drought on future world titles for tearing her down after a championship season...

That wouldn't happen, could it?

Maybe if they'd built the new ballpark outside of the city, then maybe it would have...

Home Mortgage Deduction Limits Proposed

A panel appointed by President Bush is proposing to cap mortgage interest deductions according to a forumla based on average regional housing prices.

It's a plan intended to level the playing field (and generate increased tax revenue to government). Holders of large mortgages would no longer receive greater tax deductions over moderate income housheholds living in averaged priced housing.

On the plus side, the proposed law would lessen the incentive under current tax law for homeowners to always seek higher priced housing, removing one of the pressures that rewards urban sprawl.

Given that capital gains tax rules have changed, including lesseing the tax on the gain on the sale of an existing home, presumably people moving to St. Louis from higher priced areas can "buy-down", still get a comparable or superior home, and pocket most (if not all) of the gain on the sale of their old residence tax free.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Team Parenting

Lots of articles talk about the benefits of raising children in a two parent household. No question about it, raising kids complicates your life, costs a fortune (the braces go on today...), and we only have one. Families with multiple kids really have their hands full.

Lately we've been noticing some trends. Maybe its the age. Matt and his classmates are in 7th grade now, and their hormones are starting to flow. They're testing their boundaries, getting more independent, and trying new things-not always very bright things.

The girls are chasing the boys, and the boys are chasing the girls. Girls calling the house and asking for Matt is a daily routine. Gossip and rumors abound, and hurt feelings result. And for some of the boys, the grades are not all pretty. We're seeing that, too.

In addition to two parents in the home, we've started expanding the parenting boundaries. We live in a fairly tight knit community with most of the kids attending the same school, playing sports and doing other activities together. The parents know most of the kids, and the kids know most of the parents.

As parents, in addition to caring for our own kids, we watch out for our neighbor's and friend's kids too, and we openly talking about it with the kids.

Maybe the kids like it; they're probably not excited about it. We don't know how this will work out. Whatever happens, it's somewhat reassuring to be in a place with lots of people willing to give it a try.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Local Talent

The St. Louis Hills Neighborhood Association held its annual house tour this weekend, and this year's event was expanded to include an art fair, day-long concert, and food booths featuring local restaurants.

The Pink Sisters came through and the weather was perfect. The homes we visited on the tour were beautiful, most interesting of all the home of Tom and Linda Bess of Tom Bess Automotive. The Bess's home includes an original 1950s vintage "Brady Bunch" bathroom that is still in like-new condition and someday should be the highlight photo spread when another of those "what's old is new again" interior design stories makes news.

Jim and Joyce Legrand of Legrand's Tom Boy Market were selling brats, burgers and hot dogs; Paul and Pete Manzo of Manzo Importing Company, Inc. were serving their best in St. Louis salsciccia sausage; Gino's served meatball sandwiches, red wine, and A-B products in the new metal bottles, and Michael and his wife Elise from Bartolino's was serving pasta, wine and beer.

Artists lined the lily pad pond of Francis Park, with musicians performing in the center of the park. The headline music act was Erin Bode, who drew over 500 jazz fans. Earlier in the day, the jazz trio of Intuicion/DJC featuring Jan Marra on vocals and guitar, Carol Eder, jazz guitarist (and ceramic artist at the art fair), and Darrell Mixon on bass performed in their first live gig, and by some accounts stole the show.

Across Nottingham from Francis Park, in an outcome similar to a soccer game played two weeks previously, the 7th grade boys of St. Mary Magdalen Church were defeating the St. Gabriel's team in a CYC volley ball match. Maybe in its parish closing and realignment efforts, the St. Louis Arch Diocese was trying to figure out a way to break up that 7th grade Magdalen juggernaut?

By dark, you couldn't even tell a day long neighborhood celebration had taken place at Francis Park, as dozens of St. Louis Hills Neighborhood Association volunteers had everything picked up again.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Not Ready for Prime Time

Due to the fact that San Diego and St. Louis play in the two smallest media markets of all the teams participating in this years' baseball post-season, the Cards/Padres series is being relegated to odd hours for the games.

The first game was held at 1:00 PM STL time on Tuesday, yesterday's game started at 3:05 CST, and Saturday's game begins at 10:00 PM CST. Meanwhile, yesterday, at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals defeated the Padres 6-2, taking a commanding 2 games to none lead in the series, in front of a standing room only crowd of over 52,000 fans.

Down in Atlanta, last nite's prime time game had the Atlanta Braves going up against the Houston Astros. The game featured two of the league's marquis pitchers in a classic matchup: John Smoltz for Atlanta and Roger, "The Rocket", Clemens for Houston.

The Atlanta fans showed how not to act on national television. Camera shots showed Atlanta's stadium with thousands of empty seats. (Did that mean the Braves owners demanded a media blackout in Atlanta?). With Atlanta holding a comfortable 5-1 lead over Clemens, they booed him as he was walking to take his turn to bat. And then in every pressure situation, with the Atlanta organist leading the way, the Atlanta fans would begin their "Tomahawk Chop" chant and gesturing ("Whooa-whooa-whooa...whoooa-whoooa-whoooa.... [repeat ad nauseum]).

[Aside-one of my favorite scenes from TV would be to see Jane Fonda standing behind home plate reluctantly performing the Tomahawk Chop alongside Ted Turner. Talk about a seeing a conflicted person in action.]

Atlanta calls itself "America's Team". Shouldn't that title more rightly be given to the Cardinals? The Cardinal fan base stretches throughout the midwest and beyond. Apparently the media brass does not take that fact into consideration when scheduling time slots for televising post-season games.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Our Civic "Great Room"

It doesn't matter if you're black, white, brown, or green, in St. Louis, the one color that unites us is RED.

St. Louis is steeped in tradition and a sense of community. There is strong neighborhood and community identity.

However, there's one place where it doesn't matter which side of town you're from, which side of the river, or which side of Skinker: it's Busch Stadium and it's like our civic "great room".

New homes are built with large center rooms where friends and family gather together for parties, meals, and celebrations. For St. Louis, our favorite gathering place, for more than 40 years, is Busch Stadium.

In a region of 2,500,000 people, Cardinal Nation draws over 3,000,000 fans. St. Louis becomes a sea of red. The family tradition of getting together over the Cardinals is going strong, where it belongs: in the heart of our region, in the heart of downtown.

Red is the color of passion, and St. Louis is passionate about the Cardinals. We've won more World Series championships than any other national league town, and are in the hunt once more in 2005.

Will this be our year? Maybe. But win or lose, we're in it together, the same as we have been for over one hundred years.

Can you feel it? That sea of red that binds us together? What do you want to bet the other cities and teams can. It's our mojo. It's an awesome thing. And there's nothing they can do about it. They can only imagine.

Respecting Our Elders

The City is looking to find the oldest living city resident, and the person who has lived here the longest. We pay lots of attention to the young people in our community; let's think of our seniors too.

Maybe you know someone who might be the city's most senior citizen, or the person who has lived in the city the longest (not necessarily the same person). Let's find them and give them some credit.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Proposed 16th Ward Community Center To Take Next Step

Community Center advocates plan to submit their offer to purchase the Nottingham School to the Board of Education before the end of the year.

Before the project becomes a reality, there will be a signature drive to establish a Community Improvement District to fund construction of the facility, and the Board of Aldermen would have the final vote.

Put A Bow On It

The new Target at Hampton Village opened yesterday. Employees at the store could hardly believe the anticipation from neighborhood residents about the opening of the new store.

Word was that the old Target was the highest dollar Target in the entire St. Louis area. With their new offer, they should expect to see even higher sales volume.

Has there ever been such a love affair between a neighborhood and a chain store?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

We Have A Name!

Last month I posted about a project I've been working on for some time where people network together for bartered services, ultimately resulting in a financial contribution being made to a worthwhile community-based organization. We were looking for a name for the project. Now we have one!

We're calling it the "Community Service Exchange", and tonite I'll be issuing the first voucher for services rendered: five guitar lessons for a serious young guitar student.

Here's how it works. Caleb, the student, has his fifth guitar lesson tonite (he's sticking with it...yeah!). His dad attends the lessons, and will leave this evening with a voucher describing the donated services along with a contribution form directing his payment to the community organization, in this case, our local school's music program.

I never see a payment, nor know the amount of the contribution. However the coupon to be sent with the contribution describes the nature of the donated services and bears the name "Community Service Exchange" on the form.

If you'd like more information about this project (which hopefully grows over time with more service providers, customers, and resulting donations), please drop me a line or post a comment or suggestion here. Thanks.

Block Party Season

This is the time of year you see block parties breaking out all over. We had ours this past Saturday. Overall, it was a pretty low-key affair.

Before things got started, there was Steve Patterson cruising by on his scooter. He even let me try it out for a ride. Thanks, dude.

At the block party, we had a cake walk, PA'd music, one of those inflated get-inside-and-jump-around things kids love, basketball, bike riding, a wine taste, and a big screen projection movie show for everyone after dark. Oh, and a campfire and s'mores. Everyone had a good time, and to follow up, this year we plan to circulate a block directory for neighbors to fill out and share their contact info with each other.

During the day, one of our old neighbor kids, "Johnny C", came back for the block party. He's a fourth or fifth grader, the middle child of three high-energy, big-fun kids. Little Johnny could out run kids twice his age. He was a demon during alley wiffle or b-ball games. Everyone would want Johnny C on their team. His brother and sister weren't too shabby neither.

It was nice seeing Johnny at the block party, and we welcomed him back. He still plays for the parish soccer team, even though his family moved out of the neighborhod this summer for a house on a big lot out somewhere around Manchester and Hwy 40.

I asked him if he missed anything about the old neighborhood. He said he didn't like the way houses were so much farther apart in their new neighborhood, and how it made it harder for them to visit their friends. And he said he didn't like the neighbor who lived up the hill from them very much.

Johnny said the neighbor was sort of an older man, and how whenever he or his brother or sister would hit balls from their backyard into the neighbor's, the neighbor man would get real angry with them about it. I don't remember the "C" kids ever getting into much trouble around our block. And if there was a problem, we'd talk with them about it and that would be the end of it. If anything, I remember them always being the first ones eager to help out with things if it meant our Matt could join them in some sandlot-styled game.

The "C" kids were chatty, fun kids to have around. And they had tons of kids to play with on our street. In fact, the kids sort of took over the place, and we figured that was a good thing.

Downtown Itinerary With Kids

We have family coming in for a week at the start of November. Grandma, grandpa, brother, sister-in-law, and two boys, ages 4 and 6. They're here for a national science convention, and this time, instead of staying with us, they're staying downtown at the Mayfair.

Brother and dad will be attending meetings, and mom, sister-in-law, and the boys will have days to explore. Starting with downtown, what would you recommend for things to do, places to eat? Remember, the boys are only 4 and 6, so fancy restaurants are a little beyond their attention span.

Things to do?

City Museum
Old Court House
Campbell House?
Downtown library
Shopping at Macy's
Union Station

Places to eat?

Bread Co
Lion's Choice

But I know mom (grandma), likes to eat at nicer places, so what about some of downtown's nicer restaurants that would be okay with a couple of semi-active, nice boys? (appetites are not a problem.)

I was thinking of:

Downtown Cantina
Beffa's (but they won't have a car...they could borrow mine though; that'd work)

There must be some others. What about things to do?

Monday, October 03, 2005

What's your story?

St. Louis conjures up completely different realities for people, depending on who's experiencing it. For many, the city is continuing on a steady path of recovery. Neighborhoods all across the city are seeing major improvements. Billions of dollars of new investments are happening. Property values are up. Things are the best they've been in over forty years.

Yet, despite the progress, there are still those who see St. Louis as it was back in its down days. This morning, on KMOX, the owner of 2 Cents Plain, the historic downtown pastrami sandwich place, called downtown "Done-town". He's sold his building and is going into retirement.

Standing in the crowd at Sunday's "Parade-A-Palooza" sponsored by KMOX, two elderly gentlemen, both retired, while discussing St. Louis, called one particular neighborhood "the only good neighborhood left in the City". Where have they been???

It's strange really. One city. The same facts, visible improvements, and plentiful positive news stories available to everyone, and there are still those that see St. Louis as a place in decline. The negative sentiments always amaze me. Try to convince them otherwise, and some of these old-timers (either physically or in spirit) look at you like you have two heads.

So, what's your story?